Oglala Sioux Tribe buys 50 acres on I-90

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) -- A little history was made Wednesday when the Oglala Sioux Tribe bought 50 acres along I-90 with an eye on tourism development.

The tribe closed on the parcel at the Exit 133 entrance to the Badlands National Park. It was the first time in the tribe's history that it purchased land outside the reservation boundaries, tribal leaders said.

The $950,000 purchase has been in the works for about five years and was born of observations made by some folks in the South Dakota Tourist trade.

"We have been in the tourist business for years," said Grady Crew who sold the land to the tribe. "The travelling public, the tourists that come to South Dakota, are very interested about the Oglala Sioux Tribe."

Crew and his wife Bernice operate the Badlands Trading Post at Exit 133 and long believed the tribe should have a presence at the intersection.

"We've always thought that the Oglala Sioux Tribe needed some type of welcome center on the Badlands corridor," said Grady Crew. "And Bernice and I happened to have some additional property that we thought would work good for it. And we've always dreamed of having the tribe up there with some type of welcome center."

They approached the tribe years ago and on Wednesday in Rapid City the deal was done. Tribal leaders said they were excited about the economic development prospects.

"We talked about a visitor center or a restaurant," said Oglala Siuox Tribe President Scott Weston. "Just an information hub of everything that we do."

And some commerce.

"The little trinkets that come out, the bracelets and the dream catchers --a lot of them are made in China," said Weston. "Now we can go ahead and make real, authentic merchandise. Because that's what the world is looking for. The world is looking for some sort of real story and that's what they're going to get now. They're going to get the real story and say 'This is who we are.'"

A committee of the tribal council will now begin work on finalizing what exactly to do with the property and pursue funding and investment.